2 Digital Bible Study Tips for Busy Moms

tips-for-busy-momsMy wife regularly works domestic miracles. Case in point: she actually reads her Bible first thing in the morning.

She’s a mother with young children and a lot of responsibility. We never know how much sleep Mommy will get on any given night, and she occasionally has to microwave her first cup of coffee several times before being permitted by circumstances—three circumstances between the ages of 2 and 6, to be exact—to drink any of it. So she doesn’t read her Bible every day. But every time I glance over her way at church I see that the ESV Readers Bible I got her has plenty of notes and marks in it; this is a mother who never stops trying to know and live the Bible.

She wants her Bible study to be rich and rewarding; she wants to hit the veins of gold sometimes far beneath the surface.

So I put my copy of Logos on her iPad (this is completely legal, by the way), and she has access to the same Bible study resources I use in pastoral work.

Busy moms—like the one to whom I’m married—are often pulled in a hundred different directions. They may be excused for thinking they have no time to learn complicated Bible software. Logos does have a learning curve, but you only have to go a short way up it to see a big difference in your Bible study. Here are two tips for doing just that (two instead of the usual three—since moms are busy and who has time to read the middle point in a blog post?).

1. Pick a commentary and stick with it for a while.

Grab a good commentary in Logos and stick with it for a month. You’re studying Psalms? Logos 7 Bronze has two high-quality commentaries on the Psalms that are worth spending some real time with: The Psalms as Christian Worship and The Psalms as Christian Lament, both by beloved Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke.

It’s really hard to show off what a commentary can do for you if you haven’t already read the passage in question, hopefully using the basic tricks of the Bible interpretation trade. Good reading raises questions, good study makes them start to burn.

My wife was studying Psalm 44 not too long ago, and she asked me a question about it which had begun to burn inside her, something like, “What is the point here? Why doesn’t this psalm end with hope?” Now we were both burning.

Waltke offered the insights that helped answer our questions and cool us down again:

[Psalm 44] teaches martyrs, among other things, that the calculus of covenant blessings and curses is not a simplistic quid pro quo; before enjoying covenant blessings the faithful may expect to suffer undeservedly. Moberly notes that “the predominance of laments at the very heart of Israel’s prayers means that the problems that give rise to lament are not something marginal or unusual but rather are central to the life of faith.… Moreover they show that the experience of anguish and puzzlement in the life of faith is not a sign of deficient faith, something to be outgrown or put behind one, but rather is intrinsic to the very nature of faith.” (190)

That’s an insight drawn straight from the psalm (read it, you’ll see) that answers a burning question, induces spiritual growth if you’re ready for it, and is worth chewing on for all the free time a mom has in the course of a month.

Logos makes it dead simple to look up the passage you’re studying in a commentary, and whereas science has proven that the physical book you want is always on your nightstand upstairs rather than near your easy chair downstairs, Logos is always with you on your iPad or phone.

2. Quickly check other Bible translations

My wife makes a wonderful home for our family, and she doesn’t like clutter. Before we got married she insisted that I get rid of all but my most precious soapboxes. Most of the ones I still have I must keep in the garage. Here’s the only one I get to keep in the house: the very first thing you should do if you find a verse difficult to understand is not search Google, not give up, not even check out a commentary, but check a few other Bible translations.

So you’re reading along and you come across a single word in Psalm 18 that doesn’t quite make sense (this happened to me yesterday):

The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. (Ps 18:5 KJV)

“Prevented” just sounds a little funny here. The snares of death “prevented” me . . . from what?

Logos on the iPad makes checking other Bible translations easier than taking a baby from candy. You just swipe your finger up, starting on that verse, and you tap “Text Comparison” in the menu that pops up.

Then you look at the other translations, and voilà (which here means, “Cool!”), you can quickly learn how other versions translate that word. Aha—“confronted”! That makes more sense in contemporary English, and that’s what most modern translations choose:

And the NLT finds another great way, I think, to get the meaning across to today’s readers: “Death laid a trap in my path.” That’s picturesque, it uses a more common word than “snare,” and it’s why I go to other translations. I go to help make sure I get the meaning and to make sure the meaning gets me—that it grabs me.

Especially if you’ve only read one Bible translation all your life, you simply do not know what you are missing. Reading familiar verses in multiple translations—something very few people in the history of the world have been able to do—can be just the kind of thing you need to shock you into reading what’s really there.

My wife has a graduate degree in counseling from a seminary. I highly value her critical feedback on my articles and sermons, in part because her own education helps makes her a wise and discerning dialog partner.

But she didn’t do all that educational work just for me. She did it to share with others, and not only her children. She was asked to write an article for a Christian magazine not too long ago. She’s been asked to deliver devotionals, like at the baby shower at our church a few weeks ago. She doesn’t want what she writes or speaks to be full of platitudes. She wants to communicate rich Bible truth to others in an incisive and memorable way. She needs good Bible study tools on the devices she always has with her.

mark ward
Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a Logos Pro. He is the author of multiple high school Bible textbooks, including Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption.

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